Ludlow 16 Stratford 21
STRATFORD completed the Midlands One West double over Ludlow with a hard earned but deserved victory, fought out in the shadow of the famous medieval castle.
Stratford kicked off with a biting wind at their backs and the first attack saw wing Dan Whitby almost over.
But Stratford were initially hampered by suspect tackling and aimless kicking, Ludlow showing great continuity in passing the ball out of tackles and looking dangerous.
The home side scored first with an eighth minute penalty but three minutes later the Black and Whites went ahead with a neat blind side move.
No 8 Dave Pritchard burst from the base of the scrum and fed full back Jo Cook who made ground down the wing before passing to scrum half Drew Pritchard who beat the final defence to touch down between the posts.
Captain, fly-half and the previous week’s unheralded Dick Workman man of the match Simon Brain added the conversion before quickly slotting over a penalty.
Five minutes later the ball was moved along the Ludlow backline for a try in the corner despite a fine last ditch tackle by Jo Cook. This was converted to level the score.
Wingers Whitby and Matt Allen were both denied just short of the try line, but on the stroke of half time Stratford went ahead with a forwards’ try. Lock Tom Mylott took lineout ball and, with all the pack involved, a rolling maul drove the ball over the line for fellow second row Ant Avery to touch down.
From the restart, Stratford went close with a move involving Brain and Jo Cook, while at the other end centre Rich Pepperell brought off a try saving tackle.
Ludlow narrowed the gap with a penalty.
Centre Elliot Smith was prominent in attacks and Jo Cook was tackled just short of the line.
After a further series of attacks by the visitors backs and forwards, Brain put over a penalty to increase the margin to five points.
A Stratford back move went the length of the field but the final scoring pass was knocked on, while at the other end Drew Pritchard saved a certain try by falling on a grubber kick.
Brain put Stratford further ahead at the end of normal time with another penalty.
Ludlow pressed strongly in injury time. Flanker Anthony Pritchard initially denied them by taking opposition ball at a five metre line out, but the hosts returned to the attack and just before no side gained a losing bonus point with a penalty kick.
In truth, at times, Stratford’s play lacked some of the fluency of the previous week, but, nevertheless, it was a fine team effort overall.
More of the same will be needed with the visit to Pearcecroft of Worcester Wanderers on Saturday (2.15pm).
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